Friday, December 1st

Five or so people from the last couple of weeks…


5-bradncarrieFor their introduction to the 2017 CMA’s. We have to acknowledge a Dixie Chicks level of bravery here, in the heart of the heartland. “Right now, he’s prob’ly in his PJs, watching cable news, reachin’ for his cellphone…”

For this piece of beautiful and honest writing, in the Oxford American’s Kentucky Issue. An excerpt: “Into the five blue spot lights, into the thin Midwestern crowd and a smattering of cabaret tables, I take the stage alone. The neck of the guitar settles its weight into my hands. I move the tuning pegs with the ease I move parts of my own body. Maybe this is my last Shank Hall. Maybe the night before was my last Chicago headline. Whatever my failures, the music comes easily on that little stage. The sound carries itself, my voice on its back. For a long time, I thought I’d one day get a bus, eat right on the road, show up rested to a good crowd with a hot band. Now, as usual, I am on the road tired and sweaty. My mind wanders, but the rhythm keeps itself constant in my body as I play. I recognize myself in the dimly lit eyes of the audience – trying to align myself with beauty, mid-prayer for meaning. I give what I have to give without expectation that it will come to anything but the good feeling of giving. I do not promise myself that with one more record, one more tour, everything will make sense at last.”

For his piano playing behind Gregory Porter on the Graham Norton Show. Where did that come from? Maybe I dreamt it. Porter could sing the song acapella for all the backing he needs, but that seems to be what gives Jeff G permission to play with the minimalism that he does…


For sneaking a smokin’ blues (“Rock Me Baby”) into the Top Forty – if you look beyond the slightly gauche lead vocal, there’s much to enjoy as Larry Carlton and Dean Parks have fun doubling up and duelling.

5-dellaFor her inspiration. Marc Myers, JazzWax: “Born in Detroit, Reese was a role model to many of Motown’s female singers, who were being groomed to become supper-club soul vocalists. When I interviewed Martha Reeves of Martha and the Vandellas, she told me that Reese held a special place in her heart: “While I sang “Dancing in the Street”, I thought about Riopelle St., where I grew up on Detroit’s East Side. We had street-dance parties there all the time. I loved the East Side. When I came up with the Vandellas’ name, it combined Van – for Van Dyke St., the East Side’s main boulevard – and the first name of singer Della Reese, whose voice I admired.”

If you’re receiving the email out, please click on the Date Headline of the page for the full 5 Things experience. It will bring you to the site (which allows you to see the Music Player) and all the links will open in another tab or window in your browser.

FTIS&HTW: Wednesday 20th March

The fever dream that was Beasts of The Southern Wild led me back to Kate Campbell’s “When Panthers Roamed In Arkansas” – first heard on a CD accompanying the wonderful Oxford American magazine’s Music Issue, maybe ten years ago. The small girl at the centre of the film sees giant aurochs – ancestors of domestic cattle – astride the landscape, a result of the ecological disaster that’s befalling them. Kate Campbell, with a Nashville twang but a Memphis musical sensibility, kicks off the song with a fast “Ode To Billy Joe” vamp, before the horns storm in:
“I miss Elvis in the movies,
With his dyed black hair…
Wish that I could find an ice-cold
Double Cola somewhere,
If I had a time machine
I’d go back when panthers roamed in Arkansas
And buffalo made their home in Tennessee”

The great last verse tips its hat to ecological disaster, too:
“Frogs are disappearing
Through the ozone hole,
I can’t find one song I like
On the radio…
They didn’t have these problems
Way back when panthers roamed…”

From Mick Brown’s great piece about the Discreet Charm of Nando’s in the Sunday Telegraph Magazine
“The most tireless contributor to Rate Your Nando’s [a website for devoted fans of the Chicken chain] is Ryan Wilson, who has eaten more than 1,000 meals in 139 branches across the country. Wilson lost his Nando’s virginity, so to speak (‘Actually it was more enjoyable than losing my virginity. There was some conversation at least’), about 11 years ago at the Birmingham Broad Street branch… He had been taken there by a friend from work named Dylan Wesleyharding. ‘I think,’ Wilson said, ‘his dad got a bit carried away in the 1960s.’ ”

At One Point, Five Cowbells

He's waited over twenty years for this… a happy, happy fan

He’s waited over twenty years for this… a happy, happy fan

Trouble Funk, Islington Assembly Rooms. The DJ plays go-go. As Mark says, we’re about to see ninety minutes of go-go, PLAY SOMETHING ELSE! Big Tony on Earthquake Bass. A beat so relentless it shakes the beer in your glass into a flat, flavourless liquid. “Uptown, Downtown, Around Town, All Aboard!” They do, indeed, Drop The Bomb. And it was great to see the legend that is Bill Brewster, after all these years.

Whatever Happened To Shea Seger?
Watching Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo (yes, yes, I knew it wouldn’t be up to much) I noticed a familiar name in the credits. The name was Shea Seger, a Texan who – transplanted to London – made a great album, May Street Project, in 2001 featuring a great single, “The Last Time.” I went online to see if anyone else had spotted it. And of course someone had. Kristian Lin in the Fort Worth Weekly, last April: “Even though I didn’t care for the movie when it hit theaters last December, I was intrigued by a minor mystery about it involving Fort Worth singer-songwriter and recent Weekly cover subject Shea Seger. [Early] in the movie a woman hits on Matt Damon. [She’s played by] an actress named Desi Lydic. This character is never named in the film (and indeed never appears on screen again), but in the closing credits, she’s identified as “Shea Seger (Lasagna Mom)”. Given how knowledgeable Cameron Crowe is about music, it seemed inconceivable that this could have been a coincidence. I sent inquiries about this to 20th Century Fox, but nobody there seemed to know [anything]. This week, we got an answer from the filmmaker himself. The writer-director of Say Anything… and Almost Famous tweeted us: “may street project… truly great album. there was an outtake from our elton john doc where he was raving about her too.” No word yet from Shea Seger herself about Crowe associating her with sex-hungry moms, crushes on Matt Damon, or lasagna, but if she gets back to me, I’ll let you all know.”

Nigel Kennedy interview, The Guardian
I wonder why Linda Nylind’s picture looks strange. When I catch it on the Guardian website I realise. Someone’s said, he’s upside down, we can’t have that!


Do you care about fame?
It’s useful: it’s given me choice about what music I play. And of course it’s more heartwarming to play to a full concert hall. I remember one concert in Dublin, when I was 19 and completely unknown. About 50 people turned up to a hall that could hold 5,000. I said, “Look, come round the pub, I’ll do it there.” So that’s where we all went.

Is there anything about your career you regret?
Not getting a band of my own together earlier. When I started playing my own stuff, people in the classical world would say: “Who does he think he is, writing his own music when he could be playing Beethoven?” I should have realised sooner that that’s not the point. No one has to be Beethoven: he’s been dead a fair amount of time now.

%d bloggers like this: